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12 And immediately the man[a] stood up, took his stretcher, and went out in front of them all. They were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

The Call of Levi; Eating with Sinners

13 Jesus[b] went out again by the sea. The whole crowd came to him, and he taught them. 14 As he went along, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax booth.[c] “Follow me,” he said to him. And he got up and followed him.

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Footnotes

  1. Mark 2:12 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the man who was healed) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  2. Mark 2:13 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  3. Mark 2:14 tn While “tax office” is sometimes given as a translation for τελώνιον (telōnion, so L&N 57.183), this could give the modern reader a false impression of an indoor office with all its associated furnishings.sn The tax booth was a booth located at a port or on the edge of a city or town to collect taxes for trade. These taxes were a form of customs duty or toll applied to the movement of goods and produce brought into an area for sale. As such these tolls were a sort of “sales tax” paid by the seller but obviously passed on to the purchaser in the form of increased prices (L&N 57.183). The system as a whole is sometimes referred to as “tax farming” because a contract to collect these taxes for an entire district would be sold to the highest bidder, who would pay up front, hire employees to do the work of collection, and then recoup the investment and overhead by charging commissions on top of the taxes. Although rates and commissions were regulated by law, there was plenty of room for abuse in the system through the subjective valuation of goods by the tax collectors, and even through outright bribery. Tax overseers and their employees were obviously not well liked. There was a tax booth in Capernaum, which was on the trade route from Damascus to Galilee and the Mediterranean. It was here that Jesus met Levi (also named Matthew [see Matt 9:9]) who, although indirectly employed by the Romans, was probably more directly responsible to Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee appointed by Rome. It was Levi’s job to collect customs duties for Rome and he was thus despised by his fellow Jews, many of whom would have regarded him as a traitor.

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